Hume first received critical acclaim with a body of work known as the 'Door' paintings. These minimal and abstract works, with their high gloss paint and insistent reflective surfaces, developed in the early 1990s into a broader set of motifs, such as the nude, the portrait, the garden, as well as a pictorial idiom drawn from childhood, with images of polar bears, snowmen, rabbits, owls and close-up faces. His subject matter broadened yet more through the mid 1990s to incorporate images from popular culture, making portraits of celebrity figures such as Tony Blackburn, Kate Moss and Patsy Kensit. For the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1999), he produced the 'Water Paintings', large-scale works of multiple, overlapping line drawings of nudes punctuated by flat areas of colour. Hume’s ‘Cave Paintings’ are marble tableaux composed of a variety of different stones set against each other in collaged sections that appear like tectonic plates. These are held together by a lead tracery that provides the edge to the expanses of colour, traced by the natural faults and veins inherent in the stone itself. These monolithic compositions combine motifs from the natural world with imagery suggestive of fundamental emotions. In ‘American Tan’, Hume explored the motif of the American cheerleader in a series of paintings and sculptures, commenting that they offer 'responses to America and how we're all being tanned by American policy and culture, the war and simple, complicated stuff like that. It started off with cheerleaders. The form of them is absolutely fantastic.' Hume continues to push his media in new directions, his striking compositions and vivid surfaces among the more original voices in contemporary painting.
Gary Hume was born in Kent in 1962 and lives and works in London and upstate New York, USA. Solo shows include São Paulo Bienal (1996), Venice Biennale (1999) Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1999), the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (1999), Fundação La Caixa, Barcelona (2000), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2003), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004) and the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2004). Group shows include Tate Britain, London (2004), Louisiana Museum, Denmark (2004), Kunsthalle Basel (2002) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2001)